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Helen Smith

Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensic issues in Knoxville, Tennessee, and blogs at Dr. Helen.
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VIDEO: The War Against Men’s Sports

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog / image illustration via shutterstock /  Alan Bailey

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Great Advice from Clint Eastwood

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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I am looking forward to seeing Eastwood’s new movie, Jersey Boys, and saw this article on his thoughts of directing as he gets older:

You have more experience as you get older. You have more to draw on, as long as you don’t lose your faculties. You can play on that if you’re lucky enough genetically or you take good enough care of yourself, or a combination of the two. You can go ahead and experiment with things. There’s so many different stories to tell out there. You can be 21 or 81. … If you tell yourself, “I’m too old to do that” bulls—. You’re not too old to do anything.

I have always wondered why people and our society in general try so hard to get older people to give up in life and often times, at a pretty early age. My experience is that once you hit 37, people start telling you that you are too old to do so many things. If you live to be Eastwood’s age (84), that is almost 50 years of negative messages coming one’s way. Good thing he probably never listened.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog

Image via: cinemafestival / Shutterstock.com

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Dating is War

Monday, June 16th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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I have been reading and re-reading the book this week and her chapter on dating was particularly interesting.

In a section called “Dating is War,” Amy describes dating rudeness and perceived rudeness. She makes a good point: “The truth is, in dating, a good bit of the hurt and anger people feel is caused not by rude behavior but by misconceptions about the opposite sex and the way things ‘should’ work as opposed to the ways they actually do.” The war between the sexes, according to the book, is one that goes back millions of years and has to do with the ensuing differences in what sex can end up costing us. Women want men who can provide if she gets pregnant and men like the sight of a good looking woman. Well, it’s more complicated than that, but you get the idea.

She says we need to accept that men act like men and women act like women when it comes to dating and that it is evolutionary. Perhaps, but then, many things are “evolutionary” but we strive to be better than that or to change our response to something that may have served us well as cave men but now, not so much.

That said, Amy has great advice for those who are dating, for example: Don’t date people you aren’t attracted to, assume that everyone you meet on the Internet is lying their ass off until proven otherwise, and how to politely tell a potential sexual partner that you have an STD (prior to having sex is the first step). Luckily, she provides good advice on how to deal with each of these areas so that you come out of the dating experience with some dignity!

The book is loads of fun and very entertaining. If you want to learn manners on anything from dealing with a bad neighbor to eating, drinking and socializing in modern times, read it.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog

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‘As a Male You’re Supposed to Enjoy It…’

Friday, June 13th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

A 36 -year- old woman in New Zealand gave birth to the baby of an 11 year old boy but not much can be done about it (via A Voice for Men):

An 11-year-old boy fathered a child after sex with a school friend’s 36-year-old mother.

Both the father and child are now understood to be in care after the principal at the boy’s school raised the alarm.

The case has caused counsellors working in the area of child sexual abuse to highlight the lack of attention given to women as potential offenders.

It has prompted Justice Minister Judith Collins to step in saying she will seek more information on the law. “This case raises an important point. I will seek advice from officials on whether or not a law change is required.”….

Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse manager Ken Clearwater said if the case were proved, the woman should be held accountable for her actions. Making charges able to be brought dependent on the gender of the offender was wrong and the law should be changed. “It is a huge issue for us.”

He said male victims of sex abuse carried out by women were equally as damaged as any other victim of rape.

“As a male you’re supposed to enjoy it but we don’t say that about young girls. Males are not seen as victims. The psychological damage is huge – and they carry extra shale because it’s a woman and you’re supposed to enjoy it.”

Mr Clearwater said most abuse of the sort in this case was not reported.

And it has also highlighted disparity in the law of rape, which makes it impossible for a woman to be accused of the crime.

This is a sad case and an unfair one. The law should be changed and as soon as possible.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

thumbnail illustration via shutterstock / Sebastian Kaulitzki

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Should Halle Berry Pay Child Support of $16,000 a Month?

Thursday, June 12th, 2014 - by Helen Smith
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Actress Halle Berry and her ex-boyfriend, Canadian model Gabriel Aubry.

A reader alerted me (thanks) that Halle Berry has been ordered to pay child support to her ex-boyfriend:

A judge has approved a settlement between Halle Berry and her ex-boyfriend over child support payments for their 6-year-old daughter.

The agreement approved by Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon on May 30 calls for Berry to pay ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry $16,000 a month or nearly $200,000 a year to support their daughter, Nahla. The Oscar-winning actress will also pay for their daughter’s tuition, but the former couple will split health care expenses.

The order also calls for Berry to pay her ex-boyfriend a retroactive payment of $115,000 and $300,000 to his attorneys to cover the costs of their custody dispute.

Berry and Aubry, a model, were involved in a custody dispute in 2012, and a judge blocked her from moving their daughter to France.

Gordon’s order only affects child support payments.

While these big custody and child support cases like this make headlines, the truth is, women still pay a small percentage of child support. I was recently watching the Independents, a Fox business show about the “War on Men” and Jill Filipovic of the Feministe blog said that women are now paying a great deal of the alimony and child support. This is hardly true. It may seem like it as the media and women complain if they have to pony up the cash, but men still pay the majority of child support and women rarely pay alimony.

What do you think? Is the settlement in the Berry case fair or unfair?

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog

Image via: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

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Greg Gutfeld Reveals How to Defeat the Hipster Elite

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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I am reading Greg Gutfeld’s new book Not Cool: The Hipster Elite and Their War on You. It’s a very funny book that looks at how our culture is infiltrated with those who think that being cool is the only way to be. The book’s premise is that being cool is not only annoying, it is dangerous. “We used to consider the right thing to do; now we consider the cool thing to do.” Rather than help parents through tough times, people adopt a tiger through the World Wildlife Fund. Rather than do anything hard, just do something cool, it is easier and gets one liked without sacrifice or risk.

According to Gutfeld, the cool conformists, mostly liberals, try to make you believe the following:

How do the cool enslave you? By convincing you that:
- If you don’t agree with them no one will like you.
- If you don’t follow them you will miss out on life.
- If you don’t listen to them you will die a lonely loser.

I laughed as I read this, thinking back to a few hipsters I had worked with once who told me that if I didn’t do what they wanted, I wouldn’t be invited to parties. I was dumbstruck. “Do I look like I care?” was all I could think of saying. But their behavior was intriguing to me, as well as a bit revolting. Who would respond to this type of incentive? Are they used to persuading people this way? If so, it must normally work. Why would anyone go along with this type of manipulation?

Gutfeld’s book explores why people desire so much to be cool and it seems to boil down to the fact that many people are conformists who would rather do something easy that makes them feel good about themselves than take a stand and risk not being liked: “Coolness is a replacement for a strong ego and operates as a safe ambivalent response to evil in the world. The result: We are left with a dreary planet of self-esteem sponges more interested in capturing the approval of phonies than actually doing something real or positive with their lives.”

My question is: Is being liked so important that people will risk everything this country used to stand for in order to be invited to the party?

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog

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Is Discrimination Against Boys Ruining the Economy?

Friday, May 2nd, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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This is an important question, but the more important one is “does the current government care?” “Probably not,” I thought, as I read this recent article at the New York Times titled “A Link Between Fidgety boys and a Sputtering Economy?”:

By kindergarten, girls are substantially more attentive, better behaved, more sensitive, more persistent, more flexible and more independent than boys, according to a new paper from Third Way, a Washington research group. The gap grows over the course of elementary school and feeds into academic gaps between the sexes. By eighth grade, 48 percent of girls receive a mix of A’s and B’s or better. Only 31 percent of boys do….

By kindergarten, boys already fare much worse on social and behavioral measures than girls. The gender gap is even larger than the class gap and some racial gaps…

And in an economy that rewards knowledge, the academic struggles of boys turn into economic struggles. Men’s wages are stagnating. Men are much more likely to be idle — neither working, looking for work nor caring for family — than they once were and much more likely to be idle than women.

We reported last week that the United States had lost its once-enormous global lead in middle-class pay, based on international income surveys over the last three decades.

The traits that boys have in our current school system are seen as destructive and annoying. Our society does not reward “knowledge” as much as it rewards conformity and feminized traits. Teachers who don’t like the way boys act, particularly female teachers, give boys bad grades.

Add to this discrimination the current administration’s war against college men and you have a recipe for men bailing out of the system, going to the underground economy, or saying “to hell with it” and getting disability payments. Perhaps this is the plan of the current regime.

Boys and men are marginalized (unless they take up with the PC ruling class as many do), the politicians are made to look like they are helping girls and women who turn to them for ever more goods and services, and the economy not only sputters but starts to sink. People groan about the poor economy, not realizing that they are the ones contributing to it by their compliance, and the circle is complete. Will we break it before it is too late?

What do you think?
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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog

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Why Men Cannot Trust Feminist Academics Who Write on Men

Thursday, May 1st, 2014 - by Helen Smith

Too many evenings hanging with these guys kept us from seeing too many movies this year.

I read with interest (and quite frankly, disgust) an interview with Michael Kimmel, author of books such as Guyland and Angry White Men, over at Just Four Guys blog. It made me realize why men should not trust Uncle Tims like Kimmel. Here is a summary of where academics like Kimmel stand:

PROF. KIMMEL: The United States has never been more gender equal. We’ve never been more sexually equal. We’ve never been more racially equal. Sure, on each front, we have a long way to go for full equality. There is still lots of discrimination against women, LGBT people, and people of color. But we have never been more equal. And we will be more equal tomorrow than we are today. And I’m happy to report that we are not going to go forward into the past. Women are not going to have some V8 moment in which they say “Oh, yeah, this equality stuff sucks, I hate voting, and driving, and serving on juries, and having a job, and having my own bank account, and having orgasms.” Let’s go back the way it used to be on Mad Men.

So the question for men, in my view, is simple: we can be dragged kicking and screaming into that more equal future, or we can walk courageously into that future, knowing that our lives, as men, will, be better for it, that the more equal we are, the better our relationships with our friends, our wives and partners, our children will be. Gender equality is not a zero-sum game; it’s a win-win. I support gender equality not only because it’s right and fair and just and patriotically American – which it is – but because I also know it is in my interests to do so.

No, Kimmel, men have real issues right now that you have not addressed. Campuses accusing them unfairly of rape without due process, fathers being torn from kids due to abusive family courts, men forced to pay for children that are not their own, and boys growing up without male role models. You talk about how teens like Trayvon Martin etc. need help from the men’s rights movement. Bullshit. Men like Chris Mackney need and deserve our help. I will be there to help them, will you? Somehow, I doubt it.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog

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Should Dads Keep Their Sons Away from Oprah?

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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Tucker Carlson doesn’t want his son watching Oprah:

Over the weekend, Fox News host Tucker Carlson shared a personal decision he made to protect his young son: No more Oprah Winfrey. During a discussion about a father who decided to “break up” with rap music for the sake of his baby girl, Carlson said he did the same with Winfrey for his son.

“I know the feeling,” Carlson said, commiserating with the man who was fed up with the “misogyny” of rap music. “When I had a son, I stopped watching Oprah because it was just too anti-male, and I felt like I didn’t want to bring him up in a home where Oprah was constantly attacking men.”

Good for you, Tucker. Women like Oprah tend to treat men as foreign beings who are accessories to women at best and outright predators and perverts at worst. On the other hand, it might help to explain to a boy the psychological dynamics of what these women are doing so that he can learn to protect himself as he gets older. Or you can give him a copy of my book…

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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Heavy Metal Rockers

Friday, April 25th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

I am often amazed at how many talented and resourceful professionals read this blog or my husband Glenn’s blog and let us know the amazing things they are doing. I recently acquired two beautiful heavy metal rocking chairs that my friend Hodge Golson, a business psychologist designed with the help of artist Andrew Crawford. Here is what Hodge had to say about his vision:

Many years ago I stumbled across a metal rocking chair that was as much a piece of sculpture as furniture. It was an immediate emotional reaction. I loved it. But would it be comfortable? Amazingly so, I discovered as I settled into it and rocked a bit. But I couldn’t afford the $3,000 price tag. Although I left the chair in the store, I couldn’t let go of it….

Serendipity introduced me to Andrew Crawford, a blacksmith sculptor who was eager to take on the project. As a point of reference, he pointed me in the direction of Sam Maloof, an artist he had known who had quite a professional career designing and building great wooden rockers. So I designed my own version of my original obsession.

I have to say the chairs are amazing, beautiful, comfortable and a piece of art that have wowed everyone that has seen them. If you want to check them out, you can take a look at the website at HeavyMetalRocker.com.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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How Do You Decide Which Exercise Works for You?

Thursday, April 24th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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I thought about this as I read Mark Rippetoe’s fascinating discussion of why running is not the panacea that so many people think it is:

This highly informative discussion is intended for those people who have taken seriously the advice of doctors, physical therapists, exercise physiologists, and the popular media’s dutiful reporting on these sources of common misinformation about what kind of physical activity is best for your long-term health and continued ability to participate in the business of living well.

Rippetoe goes on to make the case against running and for strength training. Okay, fair enough. I get that we need to be strong, especially as we get older; and strength training helps with this. But I can’t help that feel that a balanced approach is also good if you want to address Rippetoe’s concern that “the more you run, the better you are at running and the worse you are at being strong.”

I have a number of training goals and they change all the time. For example, right now, I want to run a 13 minute mile which I know is not good, but is about the best I can do. It’s important to me. Why? Because running is a skill that can help in situations such as running fast away from something or someone, or running to catch a subway or bus, or running after a kid or adult who needs help, etc.

Do I need to run long, slow distance? No, probably not. I also want to know self-defense because it is important to me and I would like to take more Krav Maga lessons. I suppose these goals take away from strength building but I don’t have time for all of it. So what do you focus on? If being good at strength building builds strength, that’s good, but will it help me to run faster or be better at self-defense? Wouldn’t practice of these “sports” or exercise be the most helpful? Or maybe a balanced approach that focused on strength and practicing running and Krav Maga would be best. If we only strength train, is that enough or does it depend on one’s goals?

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

image via shutterstock / Maridav

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Do Men and Women Practice Medicine Differently?

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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That is a question posed by this CNBC article looking at the differences in how many services male and female doctors perform with Medicare patients:

The diagnosis: a serious case of medical gender gap.

Male doctors on average make 88 percent more in Medicare reimbursements than female physicians, according to an analysis of recently released government data, which suggests that the gender of a medical provider could play a role in the number of services they provide patients.

The NerdWallet research found that male physicians on average were paid $118,782 in Medicare reimbursements by the federal government in 2012, compared with $63,346 for women doctors.

Naturally, the “alarming” headline of the article is that male doctors are paid more in Medicare reimbursement than female doctors. However, the real question might be:

“This certainly begs the question of whether men and women practice medicine differently,” Ositelu said. “The bottom line is patients may experience higher costs through doctors who bill for more services per patient.”

Higher costs or tests run that save lives or just make them better? Why are more procedures worse? Maybe men are more willing to ask for procedures that their female counterparts do not? Also, note that men see many more Medicare patients, an average of 512 per male doc and only 319 per female doc. Why is that? Are females less willing to see Medicare patients or less able to take on more of them as clients? And if you see more patients, don’t you charge for more services? This is a troubling article, one that doesn’t look at the quality of medicine and the reasons behind why procedures are being performed, but rather, wonders why women docs are getting less money than men from the government Medicare program.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog

image via shutterstock / Edyta Pawlowska 

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Have Dogs Replaced Children For Today’s Women?

Friday, April 11th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

What?!

I saw this NY Post article (via Drudge) about women having dogs instead of having kids:

America’s next generation of youngsters should be called “Generation Rex.”

If you’re wondering why playgrounds around the city are so quiet and dog runs are packed, a new report has an answer: More and more US women are forgoing motherhood and getting their maternal kicks by owning handbag-size canines.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that a big drop in the number of babies born to women ages 15 to 29 corresponds with a huge increase in the number of tiny pooches owned by young US women, reports the business-news site Quartz….

“I’d rather have a dog over a kid,” declared Sara Foster, 30, a Chelsea equities trader who says her French bulldog, Maddie, brings her more joy than a child.

“It’s just less work and, honestly, I have more time to go out. You . . . don’t have to get a baby sitter.”

The federal data behind the report show that over the past seven years, the number of live births per 1,000 women between ages 15 and 29 in America has plunged 9 percent.

Given that fewer and fewer men want to marry, I wonder how much of this dog substitute for a child is because fewer men want to marry and there are fewer choices for partners for women? Or have women just bought into the feminist propaganda that life with a dog is just better? Maybe it is for now, but will it always be?

This article says that “in the U.S., 40 percent of women near the end of their childbearing years have fewer children than they would like”:

So what’s driving this gap between ideal and actual family size? Among others things, delays in childbearing, which may be caused by increases in educational attainment, or by the lack of a suitable partner, may play a role. Starting childbearing at a later age means that there are fewer years for a woman to meet her fertility ideals, plus it increases the risk of age-related infertility.

Are women really happy being dog owners for life or is it a phase? What about when they are 40? Will Fluffy be enough?

A spoiled #siberianhusky #maura and her defeated #yoda #starwars toy this morning after a good run.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog

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Would Legalizing Prostitution Free Men’s Sexuality From Female Control?

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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I have been thinking about this lately after a reader of my book pointed out to me that he felt prostitution should be made legal in order to give men more freedom from marriage and being tied down to a relationship in the hopes of getting sex. If prostitution were legal, men could get sex more readily and not be so dependent on getting involved with women. Given how dangerous it can be these days for men, between being called a rapist, a sexual harasser or a pervert, it makes sense that legal prostitution might be a good solution for some men that want to avoid the risks inherent in taking on a wife or long term (or short term) relationship with a woman. I looked at a couple of articles about why prostitution was illegal and found this article at Slate:

In 1999, Sweden made it legal to sell sex but illegal to buy it—only the johns and the traffickers can be prosecuted. This is the only approach to prostitution that’s based on “sex equality,” argues University of Michigan law professor Catherine MacKinnon.

It treats prostitution as a social evil but views the women who do it as the victims of sexual exploitation who “should not be victimized again by the state by being made into criminals,” as MacKinnon put it to me in an e-mail. It’s the men who use the women, she continued, who are “sexual predators” and should be punished as such.

….Sweden’s way of doing things is a big success. “In the capital city of Stockholm the number of women in street prostitution has been reduced by two thirds, and the number of johns has been reduced by 80%.” Trafficking is reportedly down to 200 to 400 girls and women a year, compared with 15,000 to 17,000 in nearby Finland. Max Waltman, a doctoral candidate in Stockholm who is studying the country’s prostitution laws, says that those stats hold up. He also said the police are actually going after the johns as ordered: In 2006, more than 150 were convicted and fined. (That might not sound like many, but then Sweden has a population of only 9 million.)

For feminists like MacKinnon (with whom Waltman works), this sure looks like the solution: Go after the men! Take down Eliot Spitzer and leave the call girls alone! On the other hand, the group SANS, for Sex Workers and Allies Network in Sweden, doesn’t like the 1999 law.

My question after reading this mind-numbing drivel? How can it be legal to sell sex but illegal to buy it? Who are you selling sex to if no men are allowed to buy it? Of course, any time one sees a feminist of the Catherine MacKinnon ilk, all logic goes out the window as long as men are rounded up and put in jail. This is sick, twisted logic and has no place in a free society. It was a group of women who apparently banned prostitution in the US according to this Wikipedia entry:

Originally, prostitution was widely legal in the United States. Prostitution was made illegal in almost all states between 1910 and 1915 largely due to the influence of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.

Perhaps women don’t want the competition from prostitutes for resources from men? Or they just feel disgusted that a man might be able to get sex so easily? I do wonder if men were able to go freely to prostitutes without fear of jail time if it would free them sexually from female and (and state) control? Or do you think there would be more problems caused by it?

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cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog

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*Spoiler Warning* I Loved the Ending of How I Met Your Mother

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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I watched the season finale to How I Met Your Mother Monday night and I thought they did a superb job with the ending. Apparently, many people were disappointed with the ending and let their feelings be known. I was always just disappointed that Robin and Ted were no longer together in the later shows and that they ended up together was a great way to wrap things up. It took the show full circle and gave it a twist at the end. It was already suspected that the mom was dead at the end of the show but that Ted hooked back up with Robin was a surprise and I thought the writers handled it beautifully. I know that some of you have no interest in such silly sitcoms but for those who watched the show, what was your opinion of the ending?

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Crossposted from Dr. Helen’s blog

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Does Living Together Before Marriage Really Cause Divorce?

Thursday, March 13th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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An article from the Christian Science Monitor discusses how social scientists have been studying the wrong variable when it comes to cohabitation and divorce:

For years, social scientists have tried to explain why living together before marriage seemed to increase the likelihood of a couple divorcing. Now, new research released by the nonpartisan Council on Contemporary Families gives an answer:

It doesn’t. And it probably never has. …

As it turns out, those studies that linked premarital cohabitation and divorce were measuring the wrong variable, says Arielle Kuperburg, a professor at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, who produced much of the research released Monday. The biggest predictor of divorce, she says, is actually the age at which a couple begins living together, whether before the wedding vows or after.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

image courtesy shutterstock / Solomonkein

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Boys Can Be Anything They Want, As Long As They Want to Be Girls….

Monday, March 10th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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Kyle Smith at the NY Post has an interesting article on the emasculation of men in our society:

“Free to Be . . . You and Me” was a piece of Ms. Foundation-produced feminist propaganda disguised as entertainment for children that first appeared on ABC 40 years ago this week, on March 11, 1974. It drew big ratings, leading to platinum status for an associated album, a best-selling book, and many repeat airings of the show…..

The show, which is of course unwatchable today except perhaps in states with generous attitudes toward self-medication such as Colorado and Washington, was an hour-long special that meant to tell little girls they could be anything they wanted, and little boys they could be anything they wanted too, provided that what they wanted was to be girls.

The program’s most searing and indelible moment was the horrifying sight of Rosey Grier, a huge man once known as one of the most ferocious players in the NFL, strumming a guitar, smiling like a brain donor and singing “It’s All Right to Cry.”…

The climactic close to “It’s All Right to Cry” is a montage of real people (the vast majority male) shedding tears. Lads, open the waterworks! To women of today who are wondering why men must act like little boys, this is as good a moment as any to pinpoint as the start of the epidemic.

This continues today with the PC trend of sports, particularly football, and men being told that only the emotions of girls are acceptable unless they themselves actually act like one and then they are mocked by other men and women for their weakness. It’s confusing and disturbing that men are so emasculated on one hand and on the other, are supposed to “act like men” when convenient for women and society.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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No, I Still Don’t Buy into the Smith and Wesson Retirement Plan

Monday, February 24th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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Aaron Clarey, author of Bachelor Pad Economics: The Financial Advice Bible for Men discusses the Smith and Wesson plan with Ed Driscoll. Here is what Aaron had to say:

MR. DRISCOLL: Aaron, I believe that both of your recent books rather infamously reference “the Smith and Wesson Retirement Plan.” Most of us would rather not, to quote Pete Townshend, “fire the pistol at the wrong end of the race.” While recommending much about Bachelor Pad Economics, in a post at PJ Media earlier this month, Dr. Helen Smith, who helped champion your books, took strong offense at your suggestion. Could you elaborate on your reasoning?

MR. CLAREY: Well, the reasoning is economic. And it is secular. I won’t deny that. So people who are religious or even traditional, they obviously would be against that. And I take no umbrage and no offense to it.

But from a purely economic point of view, and even a humanitarian point of view, there are some times where you’re terminally ill — pick your poison: cancer, a brain tumor, whatever. And you’re not coming back, you are going to die, and the remaining two weeks, three months, whatever your life, are going to be absolutely in pain and misery.

I think it’s wise or humane or ‑‑ what’s the word I’m looking for ‑‑ compassionate to, you know, somehow kill yourself, not necessarily with a Smith & Wesson, but some kind of euthanasia. And it not only puts you out of your misery, but it also saves a ton of money. I mean, I forget what the statistics are, but a plurality of your health expenses are incurred in the last six months of life.

So you want to talk about, you know, saving your family the grief of watching you just decay and, whatever, mentally, physically, what have you, or be in pain; not to mention save the finances for a future generation. It’s not for everybody. I’m not saying you have to do it, I’m just saying it is an option.

So it seems that Aaron is just advocating along with Obama that healthcare is expensive and it’s best to just die once you reach a certain age especially. Aaron advocates a gun or other means and Obama advocates a pill or pain killer, rather than investing in life saving treatments. I get that people suffer when they are older (and sometimes younger) but killing yourself for economic reasons is not a good solution in my book. My great aunt was 90 when she asked doctors to do bypass surgery. None would until she found a younger doctor who gave her the gift of four more years of a very good life. Her story is an inspiration to me.

And what about enjoying the decline? By using up government-run healthcare as we age, wouldn’t we be doing our part?

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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The Power of Choice

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

I am reading Brian Portnoy’s new book The Investor’s Paradox: The Power of Simplicity in a World of Overwhelming Choice which focuses on how to help investors choose good money managers and decent stocks.

However, what caught my eye was an experiment done in nursing homes that the author outlines to show evidence of the power of choice:

Researchers set up an experiment with two groups of elderly residents. One group was encouraged to exercise their liberty. Among other empowering directives, an attendant told them “If you are unsatisfied with anything here, you have the influence to change it.” …

Aging individuals who were given enhanced personal responsibility demonstrated much better outcomes in the following months.Those with more control registered a higher degree of mental alertness….Finally– strikingly—they were more likely to live longer. The mortality rate in the eighteen months following the original study was double for the group with less control (30 percent versus 15 percent). Choice and control matter.

The book looks at how to choose investments wisely from so many options but what about politically? I have to wonder what happens to us psychologically as our government and the culture take away more and more personal responsibility from us. Do we look at the options the government or the culture gives us and turn those into more choices to feel better? For example, Facebook now allows one to choose from over 50 gender options. Will these faux “choices” be enough? They will for some.

Sure, you can click on an “option” to show that you are Cis Female but what if you can’t drink a large soda in a New York cafe or choose your own doctor? To those of us who believe in the liberty to choose and in personal responsibility, how will we feel and cope? Do we end up like the nursing home residents who had less autonomy and died earlier? Do we wait while around just hoping that the government will throw us a few crumbs of freedom or do we fight back in every way that we know how to make sure that the power of choice, freedom and liberty continue to be the American way? I hope the latter.

*****

cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog

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Can Loneliness Kill?

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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Independent.co.uk: “Extreme loneliness worse for health than obesity and can lead to an early grave, scientists say”:

Feeling extreme loneliness on a long-term basis can be worse than obesity in terms of increasing the potentially lethal health risks that lead to premature death, scientists said.

Chronic loneliness has been shown to increase the chances of an early grave by 14 per cent, which is as bad as being overweight and almost as bad as poverty in undermining a person’s long-term wellbeing, a study has found.

As more people live longer, they are spending a bigger part of their lives feeling lonely. This is having a significant impact on their physical as well as mental health, the researchers found.

Loneliness is also becoming more common as people live alone or become isolated from relatives and friends, especially in retirement.

Research has shown that at any given time between 20 and 40 per cent of older adults feel lonely….

Maybe if our culture didn’t treat older people like pariahs and worship youth, older adults might feel less lonely. Worshiping youth makes young people feel like they should be having a good time and if they are not, their feelings of loneliness and isolation increase. Treating people with humanity regardless of age would be a good start.

******

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s Blog

image courtesy shutterstock / qingqing

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To Be a Winner In Life You Must Take Risks

Saturday, February 1st, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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I am reading a new book by Tom Panaggio entitled The Risk Advantage: Embracing the Entrepreneur’s Unexpected Edge. Panaggio is and entrepreneur and was a race car driver who:

… has learned that you cannot avoid risk if you want to be a winner. In The Risk Advantage, Panaggio tells the story of how he and his business partners built two thriving companies: Direct Mail Express (which now employs more than 400 people and is a leading direct marketing company) and Response Mail Express (which was eventually sold to equity fund Huron Capital Partners). The book is designed as a guide for those who are contemplating an entrepreneurial pursuit, are already engaged in building a business, or are currently working for someone else and want to inject their entrepreneurial ideas and attitude.

As I read through the book about the rewards of taking risks in building a business, one point jumped out at me. The author says that risk must be embraced in order to be successful; yet people are afraid of risk. “Risk means having to face an uncertain outcome.”

In terms of the differences between men and women, what does this mean? If women are more risk averse in business, they will be less successful. In our risk averse society, where everyone must be covered from cradle to grave and have the hand of a “benevolent” government guiding them, what does this mean for the entrepreneurial spirit? Add to this the punishing taxes and regulations on small business and it is a recipe for less economic growth.

Will men become more risk averse as time goes on due to the social conditioning that risk is bad? Or, even if willing to take business risks, will men decide it is not worth the trouble due to the restraints of the government? Or will they become more risk-takers by going to the underground economy and staying below the radar? I suspect that the latter option will become more popular for men while women will flock to safer jobs and opportunities funded by the government.

****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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Why Marry if You Are a Call Girl?

Thursday, January 16th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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I just finished reading Tracy Quan’s book Diary of a Married Call Girl: A Nancy Chan Novel. The description is as follows:

In this irreverent take on infidelity and modern marriage, newlywed topflight prostitute Nancy Chan finds herself struggling to adjust to the realities of domestic bliss. She’s honing her respectable image as the wife of investment banker Matt, cooking fashionable meals and taking his shirts to the cleaners. But now that she and Matt share a home, it’s getting harder to keep her career as an exclusive call girl a secret. Nancy fears what might happen if Matt finds out, but she can’t quite bring herself to give up her financial independence. And now Matt wants to start a family. Motherhood could jeopardize her business—and what will it do to her body?

Okay, I know this is just fiction, but as I read the book, I couldn’t help but wonder why this woman was married if she was pursuing life as a call girl. Obviously, from her point of view, it is nice to have someone to care for you and at the same time continue with your current job. The risk factor is also probably a turn-on. However, you have to wonder what kind of cruel joke she is playing on her banker husband, who is pretty naive and seems to think she is studying French all day while she is turning tricks instead. It would be one thing if she was upfront about her work and told her husband what she did before they married to give him a choice about what to do, but to trick him to me seemed sickening, making the storyline difficult for me to deal with.

If this were a man doing the same sleazy thing, no one would be that intrigued by it; in fact, many readers would probably think that “going Betty Broderick” on him would be okay. But when a woman deceives a man, somehow it makes for a mysterious story showing the complexity of women’s sexuality.

****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen – visit her site for more comments and discussion

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Please Take Me Off Your List of Hate

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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So I received this press release about a recently released book by psychologist Kirk J. Schneider, Ph.D:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRESS CONTACT

Lorna Garano

510-280-5397

lornagarano@gmail.com

A Psychologist Diagnoses the Tea Party-and other extremists threatening our world. In “The Polarized Mind: Why It’s Killing Us and What We Can Do about It,” Kirk J. Schneider Ph.D., calls for a new and deeper psychological understanding of our greatest political and social conflicts and those who drive them.

It’s easy for liberals to snicker at the misspelled signs and misplaced anger of the Tea Party, but psychologist Kirk J. Schneider says that we dismiss or diminish groups like this at our own peril. Schneider, the author of THE POLARIZED MIND: WHY IT’S KILLING US AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT (University Professor Press, 2013, paperback), has done an exhaustive study of extremist movements throughout history and he says it’s time for us to look more seriously at what he calls “the polarized mind.” In “The Polarized Mind: Why It’s Killing Us and What We Can Do about It,” Kirk J. Schneider Ph.D., calls for a new and deeper psychological understanding of our greatest political and social conflicts and those who drive them.

“You can see gradations of the ‘polarized mind’ at work in virtually all destructive political movements from Nazi Germany to Maoist China to our very own Tea Party. In fact, it is the pervasive malady of the 20 and 21st Centuries,” says Schneider.

How does the Tea Party fit in? Many among its ranks have seen their lives profoundly upended by economic, social, and political trends beyond their control. They tend to be middle class people who are mired in debt and have seen a sharp decline in their living standard due to the shift to a service-industry economy. They often face stiff competition for low-wage jobs and when they land them they may be confined to dull, meaningless work day after day. They resent any government help for people who are even less fortunate and train their anger on those who are the least responsible for their plight. And it’s not just an empty wallet that drives them. It’s also a sense of social dislocation. “I think many in this movement are embittered over the increasing complexity of contemporary life. They look at the 9/11 attack-which once would have seemed unthinkable-the decrease in church attendance in many places, the loss of two-parent households, gender equality, the lack of simple ‘good guy’ and ‘bad guy’ presentations of the U.S. vs. the rest of the world, and they feel profound existential anxiety-as if the ground beneath them is giving way,” says Schneider.

Although you won’t find “polarized mind” in any official diagnostic manual, for Schneider it’s crucial that the psychological community and the world at large rethink our ideas about mental illness if we are to understand the forces at play in the world. “When we think of mental illness, we think of a discrete and politically powerless group of people who have received a diagnosis, but if you look at the key criteria for diagnoses it’s abundantly clear that they describe vast swaths of the population, not a marginalized group,” says Schneider. Look, for example, at some of the traits of narcissistic personality disorder or psychopathy: A callous disregard for the feelings of others, the reckless disregard for the safety of others, a sense of entitlement, arrogance, a grandiose sense of self-importance. These traits are readily seen in the Tea Party and other extremist groups.

“No one can or should deny the historical forces that have shaped movements like the Tea Party, but to overlook or dismiss the psychological factors that are linked to them is to have less than a full understanding of what makes extremism tick-and how we can defuse it,” says Schneider. Recognizing the polarized mind when we see it is the first step.

Here is the reply I sent back to Lorna Garano:

How DARE YOU send me this trash associating law abiding American citizens with Nazi Germany and Maoist China. I am a psychologist who has sympathy for my fellow Americans who are so “extremist” that they believe in lower taxes and the Second Amendment. Horrors!

What is “killing us” are polarized minds like Kirk J. Schneider Ph.D who is so narrow-minded that he thinks those who have different political beliefs than himself are the enemy and seeks to assign them with a “diagnosis.” What is truly extremist and scary to those of a more conservative or libertarian persuasion is that so many psychologists such as the one below are such political hacks for the Democratic Party. Please take me off your list of hate.

Helen Smith, PhD

*****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog – visit for additional comments and discussion

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What is the Difference Between Sociopathy and Psychopathy?

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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In the previous post on the possible rise of male sociopathy here, reader Gawains Ghost says he is not sure he knows exactly what sociopathy is. He is in good company. People seem to use a number of psychological terms interchangeably and it often gets a bit confusing.

According to this article, Robert Hare, author of Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us:

“suggests that the difference between sociopathy and psychopathy may primarily reflect how the person using these terms views the factors contributing to the antisocial disorder.” More apt to view antisocial behavior as arising from social conflicts, sociologists typically prefer the term sociopath. Whereas, psychologists use the term psychopathy to describe a psychological disorder that is the product of a combination of psychological, biological, genetic and environmental factors (Hare 1999).

To make it a bit more confusing, psychologists use the term Antisocial Personality Disorder from the DSM-5 to describe some of the traits of the psychopath though it is important to remember that one can have APD without being a sociopath or psychopath.

This article looks decent and might help you understand more about these terms if you wish to confuse yourself even further.

******

cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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